Archive for category Blog Entry 6
Conformity is a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group. This can happen in response to real (ie. physical threatening) or imagined (ie. norms) pressure.
People conform in order to fit in with the collective consciousness and to better adapt and excel in their social environment. It has evolutionary and biological roots from the time where humans had to stick together, united by mechanic solidarity, in order to survive. Conformity to the norms of a group gives us identity as well as a support system. This only becomes a bad thing if all of our “self” is investigated in only one group because it will lessen the possibility of a person becoming so personally entrenched and invested in one group that when a mob mentality develops they find themselves flipping over an ice cream truck because they didn’t have Drumsticks.
When people are blatantly faced with social pressure to conform, they often rebel. This action is known as reactance, and takes place because we value our freedom to be individuals. In today’s society, the book stated that reactance is usually illustrated through underage drinking. Because there is a certain law that determines what you can and cannot do, the individuals who believe they are being unfairly treated and wish to non-conform choose to disobey it. This clip created by The Lonely Island, illustrates a humorous way that people may show their reactance (watch until 1:42).
As you can see, the main character is dismissing society’s perceived attempts to control his actions, which he illustrates by throwing their free samples, charity, and cell phones on the ground. His statement of “I ain’t gonna be part of this system” clearly illustrates his rebellion to the government, which he perceives as always trying to take his freedom away. Because he wishes to protect his sense of freedom and individuality, he illustrates reactance.
Conformity is when you alter or change a behavior in order to be more like the rest of a group. You do it under both real and imagined pressure.
When I think of Conformity, I often think of the crucifixion of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I wonder, when the crowd yelled out that Barnabus should be released, how many of them actually held that view. Is it possible that, perhaps, only a small portion of the mob that had converged for the trial actually wanted Christ killed? Or, even if the majority had asked for his death, how many wanted to show him mercy but failed to speak up because of the pressures of the masses?
As humans, we all conform. All the time. Even when you think you’re being different and unique, you’re probably conforming. The biggest issue is knowing when to stand up for your values, despite overwhelming pressure to change.
Today I want to talk about conformity, which is how a persona will change their behaviors to match the common/’normal’ behavior in their group. People like to feel accepted and agreed with, so conformity is a quick shortcut to a feeling of belonging. However, there are factors that affect how likely a person is to conform, I want to focus on the idea of prior committment. Prior committment is when previous presentation of a behavior/attitude goes against the norms of the group, so he/she will be less likely to conform.
A good example of this is what I refer to as the ‘Great Recycling War’. It took place in one of my apartments during my early BYU time. Coming from Portland, Oregon, I am a bit of a hippy compared to the average BYU student. Some of my behaviors seem odd/out of place, or even disruptive to some people. One such case was my insistence on recycling. I asked my roommates if it would be ok for me to put a small recycling bin next to our trash can. I would be responsible for taking the recycling to the plant and it would not be their worry. I cared very much for recycling and I made it clear that I was all too happy to do the chore if it meant less garbage.
Well, one roommate took particular offense to this idea and grouped up with those who were slightly opposed. She aggressively voiced that the apartment did not want/need a recycling bin. I ended up sacrificing my pantry floor space to create ‘room’. I was already very committed to my need to recycle. I had made it clear that it was important to me. And I wasn’t going to be bullied into changing that–even at the risk of incurring some roommate wrath and aggression.
While my behavior may not have been conducive to inter-roommate relations, it certainly is a good example for how prior commitment affects our likelihood to conform to the group. I had already made my position clear, before I realized the most of the group did not want to recycle. Thus, I stuck to my guns and stubbornly sorted through the trash to get that recycling. I would not conform to the situation. Had I known their dislike for the idea before I used the bin… maybe I would have been less likely to stick to my guns.
This title purely represents the uttermost desire of every human being: the need to be well seen by others and to become accepted in a social group. Fortunately or not, this achievement comes through a phenomenon called conformity. This is characterized by a person’s modification of behavior that is consistent with norms of a desired group of affiliation. Since we all enjoy socializing we also tend to adapt to certain behaviors a group might require in order for us to become accepted.
Although, the most used example is school pressures and social interactions, I will still use this example since it really stands up to me till this day. When I was about 16 years of age I was in a rock band, therefore many of the people I hung out with had long hair and used constantly crude language. However, In spite of the fact I wasn’t too churchy, that was a big stretch for to get used to, but I liked to spent time with them so much, that I started to act the same way. After a couple of years I had long hair and I my language etiquette was pretty terrible. I think I was more like a slider in that instance by making my friends not really notice my change.
Interesting thing is that at the same time I felt kind of bad about lowering my standards, they were the only ones that were really there for me. My buddies were great people and really cared about each other. With that being told, I wonder how my friendship would have been if I had stood up firmly for what I believed and acted the way my mother raised me. In sum, conformity is exemplified in a church environment, work and family even. Therefore, we have to open our minds to new possibilities and be able to discern what activities and groups of people are actually good to add to our behavior in a positive manner.
When we talked about conformity, or changing behavior to act in accordance with a group, the first thing that came to mind was back when I played competitive volleyball. Before playing in college, where all refs are paid officials, players would be asked to help out.
A player from a 3rd team would be asked to line judge. This meant standing on the corner of the court and calling if the ball landed in or out on tough plays. I can’t count the hundreds of times I have line judged a game and this feeling of conformity is strong.
Playing at a high level, but still in high school, club volleyball can make a big difference. Everyone wants to be on a good team and the better your team does nationally, the more exposure you will get which will lead to being recruited to a better college. The parents realize this and with all the money, time, and efforts they invest in their children’s career, perhaps get the most into the games at these club tournaments.
As a player line judging, you don’t have much on the line. This is not the case for the parents cheering for their daughters in the game. This puts a lot of pressure on the line judge that comes down to a single call. Especially when the game may be on the line. With parents yelling at the top of their lungs what the “correct” call is and the coaches and players trying to convince you also, a decision must be made in seconds. Conformity comes in when the line judge follows what they are hearing. If all of the parents in the stand are yelling it was out, it is not rare that a line judge will signal “out” even if they thought it was inside the court. There are many times when your integrity is challenged when it would be so much easier to make an incorrect call and claim ignorance or convince yourself of what you saw. When changing your call because of anyone else other than what you saw…This is conformity – modifying one’s behavior to make it consistent with the group.
I knew a girl in high school named Kelsey. She was crazy good at soccer, super friendly, outgoing, gorgeous, etc. Kelsey was also black. My high school in the suburbia of Denver, Colorado was most definitely predominantly white…diversity was practically non-existent. When reading through the section on cohesiveness, Kelsey immediately came to mind.
Cohesiveness is a feeling; it is how strongly a certain group of people are bound together. The more cohesive a group is, the stronger they are. In particular, I would like to address “own-group conformity pressure.” In the book, the example used describes Kelsey’s situation perfectly. Kelsey was surrounded by white people constantly; her friends, family members, teachers, etc. Because of this, she experienced pressure to act and dress as “we” do, as the book states. Her peers always told her she was white because of the way she acted. The white people at my high school were an extremely cohesive group compared to other races present, and as such this group was very powerful. Many students of other races were in the same situation as Kelsey, and most of them conformed to act the way that the majority acted (white) because of this own-group conformity pressure.
This cohesive conformity pressure happens all the time. The interesting thing with Kelsey’s situation is that she realized it was happening. She switched schools in the middle of her high school career to be surrounded by diversity. She wanted to have black friends so she wouldn’t experience this conformity pressure any longer.
“One-group conformity pressure” is a powerful thing. When a group has a lot of power and is extremely cohesive, many will conform to comply with that group. Three cheers for Kelsey and her maintained identity.